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Mosaic World News

News/Business. English news reports from Middle Eastern broadcasters. (CC)

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00:30:00

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ac3

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Us 5, Paul Haller 4, Chicago 4, Buddhism 3, United States 3, John Simmons 3, San Francisco 3, Greg Conlee 2, Scott Peck 2, Paul 2, India 2, Greg 2, Buddha 1, Tanha 1, Uninitiated 1, Zen 1, Anna 1, Dharmadhatu 1, Susanna 1, Nonagression 1,
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  LINKTV    Mosaic World News    News/Business. English news reports  
   from Middle Eastern broadcasters. (CC)  

    September 26, 2012
    7:30 - 8:00pm PDT  

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and i suppose the theme of that thing is going to be, "teach your kid to be good about money," and all this. but the sylvan learning center thing was looking at your child like your most important investment, and at maturity - is that will they be able to get into the good college? when they get there, will they be able to do well? and really looking at it, at your child like a financial thing, and that's bad. but also, i was going to say, i'm a woman who has a mother in a nursing home right now, and the first words out of scott peck's road less traveled are, "life is difficult." and in his second paragraph, he's getting to the point that when we stop taking that personally, we'll all be ahead of the game; it'll never be as hard again. but he wrote another book called, a bed by the window , and this is about life in a nursing home - it's about the people who live there. and in my professional path now - i'm a speech and language pathologist in private practice and i have two nursing homes
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that i go to, one gentleman is in each one - i see a lot of suffering in those nursing homes, frankly, and i also see wall-to-wall courage and heart, and i love thinking about it from the point of view of scott peck's book, because it really - that book reminded me of something i become keenly aware of when i'm in these places is that life goes on in there, and people who work in - the b.a.'s, the people who run them, have no idea - no idea of the linkages between and among the people who live there, how they look out for each other. now it's a murder mystery that happens in there - it's a great story. >> you see that? that's what i'm talking about, that we have these mental concepts that block out the flow of life. let me just quickly go through the eightfold path. yeah, just real quickly, we'll just blow right on through that, folks. but to give you some idea, first off, because the buddha has -
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you talked about a hosospital; dare we say a therapy? you got this illness because you're constantly thinking you're the center of the universe - well, here's the therapy. and it just cracks me up that this guy's putting all this out 2,500 years ago, and when we go through this, i'm just going to paint it in - i don't need to be sacrilegious, if we're even talking about a religion at this point - but to just paint it in a more pop way, because you can see the kinds of things he's saying - if we applied even a few of them, we would find our peace level and happiness level go up regardless of whether or not we happen to be a religious person. so just to go through them here, the eightfold path, first off, what we're talking about is the right path, the right way - the right state of mind. you have to have - and in one way, what he's talking about here are the right kinds of associations as we go through them. that's the first thing
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that we need to look at. now, as we move through these, you think about this - okay, what's wrong? first, we have to have the right kind of teaching, the right kind of thinking, and that's the first step. so what he is simply talking about is, if you want to walk down this path, first off, you have to make this very simple statement, that you believe the first three of the four noble truths - that we suffer, and that we suffer because of desire or tanha or a separate existence, and there has to be some way out of it. the second one, as we're going on through this - after that, there has to be a right belief and then a right purpose. and as we look at that, think about it in your own life. if you want to get out of this - like your wonderful comment about your sweatshirt - i love that, because that's right purpose. it doesn't have to be intense meditation, though a buddhist who is involved in the path might do that -
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it doesn't have to be that. but what it could be is something that you have the aspiration, you have the purpose in order to go down this path. and so, that's another key point. moving on down through it, next, we come to what we might see as a right livelihood. now, with right livelihood, there's some funny things about it. martin luther - founder of the lutheran church, a great protestant leader - once did the same kind of thing, "what's the right livelihood?" and he thought that being an executioner was okay for a christian, but not a usurer, and not a speculator. so i think he more or less damned all or most of modern economy here and a little anti-semitism in there too. but the idea of what you do for a living has to be something that brings you peace. and students come through and they get their b.a. and they go off to a job and they might be religious studies minors,
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and i see them going into an environment, and part of me just sort of - do you really want to do that? is that struggle for the legal tender really worth that? i mean, you have to be in some kind of environment that allows you to feel a sense of peace. i read a wonderful book on buddhism called, full catastrophe living. i can't think of the guy's name who wrote it, but it was about the thing that yes, in anything, in a nursing home, in the stock market, if you have the right mind set, you can do it, but make sure you do it, so right living becomes another key. then, the next step is more or less like the buddhist ten commandments - sometimes it's - you really shodn't mix religions in that way, but it's the ethical path. and here we have some - actually, it picks up on some of the ten commandments themselves, so i guess we could use it - not lying, not cheating, not stealing...
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they say chastity, but we can get back to that one later - i think they're talking about moderation there. and in other words - let me give you a modern spin on that, just real quickly, on those kinds of things. if you think of not stealing, and not killing and these kinds of things as prohibitions, i don't think you've even begun to make the ethical understanding. and i like to think of a very common term in the psychological world as manipulation. if you're a person that's given to manipulating other people, that's when you're in- that you look at life like "i'm the center, and anything i can get for myself is okay." once you're there, then you can steal, you can cheat. cheating amazes me, because some say that 90 percent of students in college cheat. you can only cheat if you are in that mode that says you're the center of the universe and you can get something for yourself.
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so all these prohibitions actually come out of wrong mind set to begin with. yeah, go ahead, janet. >> and this is where the sexual misconduct thing comes in, too, because it's not a strict chastity thing, but it's hidden with relationships where neither party is injured, both parties are equally participating, right? not taking advantage, not manipulating someone else for your own sexual gain. >> yeah, exactly. i mean, you would not do that. all these control freak things we do to each other come out of tanha- they come out of separating yourselves. you know, they come out of thinking you can get something. let me get susanna - go ahead. >> i just wanted to put in the point that celibacy and chastity are not necessarily the same thing. sometimes they are, sometimes they're not. celibacy means no sexual relations. chastity, it seems to me, to mean fidelity in those that you have, and what janet was talking about. it's ethical, it's clean, it's good,
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and it's faithful. >> and again, i think it comes from a different mind set. you know, it doesn't come from- i mean, sex is one of the greatest power over situations you have- that's why there's so much sexual abuse is because it's a way to use power over people, and it's also one of the addictions. and that's when you're coming from that state the buddha says you've got to get out of before you can even make the decisions. sure. >> so in your classes, you don't give grades, because that's a sense of ego satisfaction. maybe it's just instruction for the sake of instruction, or learning for the sake of learning. is that-i guess i'm having a problem here in that there seems to be a lack of balance between the ego and the ego-less states. >> i just want to jump into that question because you raised something that's obviously very close to me,
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and when we get to dependent origination, i think i can come back to it. but let me just quickly say on the grading, i look at grading not- i think, in a way, different from most people. yeah, i give everybody a's- that takes care of it; there's the self saying- no, what i like to do is i see the relationship between a student, the subject matter, and their performance on more of a continuum, more of a- in other words, the grade isn't a reward. a grade is not a personal measure of their ego; a grade becomes- it's very hard to say, but something that ends up on a continuum between their performance, their capabilities, their interests. it's a combination of things that, at least for me, takes it out of an element in which, you know, i become the arbitrator, the godlike figure up there. but as we get back to this point of dependent origination, let me try to come back to that, too, because it's another one there.
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but first, let's finish up the last elements in the eightfold path, and then i want to take us to one of our experts, the zen center. the last stages of right mindfulness, right thought, right concentration, we can take these in their entirety, because what they're really saying is, okay, you do all of the above, but then you need to meditate, then you need to- you need to have the right mind set in order to focus in on the noble truths on these paths and achieve it. and of course, meditation becomes the key way. and we get back to nancy mccagney's earlier comments about attention, and this is the end result of the eightfold path- to put yourself in a situation in a community, amongst people in a life situation, in which you can keep your attention focused on the present, on what you're doing, and monitor that constant, constant tendency on the part
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of humans to pull yourself away. in other words, the latter parts of the path- and here in buddhism we see a wide variety of meditative practices, following teachers, whatever, in order to get there. but the idea is you have to get there. the only way that you can achieve enlightenment is to monitor constantly that tendency on your part to pull away from the rest of the world around you, and run life as though you were the only power station in control of everything else. i mean, that's about the best that i can say of the analogy- it's going to be meditation practices, it's going to be rituals, it's going to be prayers and other sorts of buddhism. but what you need to do to fulfill the eightfold path is to finally- to do it. you know, that's the buddha- you have to do it. you know, you have to get out there and draw back from tanha, so that the suffering is ultimately lifted. yeah, susanna? >> and here, you can find a lot of this in nursing homes.
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here are people who had homes, clothes, property, control over families, and things like this, and now they're there with their bed, their little night stand, and the smallest closet. and they have nothing else- a little bulletin board that's thoughtfully placed behind their bed where they can't see it but it sets them off nicely for the visitors. but they are involved very much in letting go and in living in the now and in- it seems to me, many of these exercises, even, that we're talking about. >> you know, that's what i would want to say here. you know, we've said it enough, that we see lots of religious expressions of buddhism, but it's the essential thing, to go to a place of simplicity. it doesn't mean sell all your worldly belongings and live in a cave- although some people have. what it means is to construct your life in a way- speaking from the buddhists' perspective-
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that allows you to continue on this path towards alleviating suffering by getting rid of tanha, and i think that's the way. now let me move to one of our roll-ins here. we went to the zen center, and most of you probably have heard of zen buddhism- it's one of the more popular ones in the united states. and so we happened to be in san francisco, went to the zen center there, and talked to paul haller, one of the leaders. and i asked him about some of these key buddhist ideas, particularly about no self and what is the practice, what's the goal that he's looking for. so if we could, let's listen to a believer, and expert on buddhism, paul haller at the san francisco zen center. [bells ringing] >> what a beautiful, peaceful oasis in the middle
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of a busy city. we're at the san francisco zen center, and we're going to be looking at zen buddhism today. certainly, this is a wonderful symbol of what i think we're going to find, because at the heart of the buddhist experience is that very religious, very spiritual quest for peace and interconnectedness. now the story of the buddha is something that we'll be exploring here throughout this part of the experiential dimension. but today we want to go to an expert, paul haller, who's been practicing zen buddhism for many, many years, and is resident in this center. he's going to help us understand one of the buddha's key insights- that it's only through finding a peaceful center, like we have in this garden, that one can truly experience the spiritual nature inherent in all things. meditation is the key, and paul's going to tell us much about zen buddhist meditation today.
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>> the elegance of zen practice is that core instruction is quite simple- sit down, be erect, be alert, and be open to what happens, and then the particularity of each of our lives comes forward. and as we stay open to that and become aware of that, become aware of who we are, and of the nature of human life. and in staying with that, we become aware of our relationship to it- what we add to it, what we try to subtract from it- and we become aware of this dynamic nature of life, this fact that life is an interactive dynamic in which nothing stays unchanged.
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>> paul, we can see when someone is formally sitting zazen that they're meditating. but does this meditation lead to a kind of mindfulness in everyday activity? >> there's a meditative mindfulness that goes through our life. but the modality of it can change. the modality of it can change from a quiet truth- it's a simplification, a deconstruction, experiencing life in its elements- the pressure of your foot on the floor, the sound, the flow of your own breath, to full-hearted engagement in an activity. when you feel the vitality of the moment, when you let yourself come forth spontaneously, and express yourself. another one of the common misconceptions is that meditation and mindfulness are thought of mostly in terms of quietude,
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and that this other side, this other extension, even to the vitality of life, isn't getting emphasis. now normally, it may be that first step has more to do with quietude, it has more to do with lowering our level of stress and restlesness and preoccupation, and then the other can come forth- i mean, for most people, that is the case. but it is important to emphasize the active side too. >> paul, this is a very open-ended question, but very helpful for the uninitiated student in the audience who hasn't quite grasped buddhism. what might you add to help them understand buddhism just a little bit better? >> one of the mainstays of our practice, in terms of bringing forth a particular zen experience for someone, is to have a one-on-one interview. and i do that a lot.
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so as i do that, part of what i'm trying to communicate is that the process of interview, the process of inquiry expresses the fundamental of zen- not the answer. someone said to me the other day, they said, "i feel completely put on the spot. i feel like you're asking me to be here, and take responsibility for my own experience." i think that is a wonderful expression of a zen. but right along with that, allowing us taking responsibility for your own experience, is the opportunity and the permission to be exactly who you are - that exactly who you are is the answer. >> "exactly who you are is the answer"
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is what we're hearing over and over again. now, chris, let me hold your question just for a bit here, because we're coming down in the class and i want to get at least one other roll-in and we'll be able to start out the next one with it. but let me bring up this graphic that i've been promising about the key buddhist insight that i think when you bring this insight in and connect it to the four noble truths and the eightfold path, you begin to get what i'm talking about, is a profound kind of psychology that lives outside of any particular religious realm at this point. now paul haller here that we saw, he practices this kind of presence and he sees this. but these two key insights that we have are interconnected- they come in together. and the one that i've already mentioned because i got so excited early on in the class is dependent origination. the second one is no self- and again, they're interconnected. and this is something to think about. by "no self," what is being said
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is this classic buddhist idea that there is no self apart from relationship. and this is the one that- have fun with it, folks; go out into the classroom and test it out. but notice, as you move through your day, how your- the self that you think changes rather dramatically as you move through it. i think as you get a little bit older, it does less, but your self in relationship to your job- different kind of person. your self in relationship to your family- a different, well, john simmons. not john simmons- becomes a different john simmons when i'm relating to my kids, to my students, to my provost, to authority figures. you know, watch that- watch how you're going along, thinking, oh, boy, that religious studies class was so mellow and i'm feeling so good. and then somebody pulls out in front of you, "arrrrgggghhhh!"
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you know, you're sense of self has changed, from peace into an angry self, in relationship to that fool who pulled out in front of you, you know. that's what i'm talking about- it is not a cosmic, bizarre kind of insight the buddha is offering up; he's saying we suffer because we don't recognize that we are always, always- you know, our sense of self is in that relational mode. yeah, janet. >> i actually have to debate a little bit with you, because i found the no self thing to be the hardest part. my teacher started out with all things are by their very nature impermanent- even the mountains are worn down by the water, and crumble to the sea. so anything you might want to grasp onto isn't permanent. if you wish for things to be permanent- suffering. there you go- craving for things to be permanent- suffering. and then, this no self thing, every once in a while, i get this flash of insight where i think i have a half a handle on it,
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but boy, that's been the toughest one. >> it is in buddhism, and that's where gets this world-denying thing- that i don't have a self. but it's not so much not having a self, because something comes in there that is so fulfilling, it's the self that things it's separate from the things that it's relating to. that's why it has to be seen with dependent origination. you take no self, and you go, "bummer! i'm not signing up for that path. you know, i mean, no self? zip, zero, i'm out of there." but it's that thing in relationship. again, as we're coming down slowly, i want to go to another form of buddhism- tibetan buddhism, fairly regional here. tibetan buddhism- everybody's into tibetan buddhism these days, and i want to bring in a spokesperson who speaks to the no self idea from the dharmadhatu center, because let's again let a buddhist try to sort this out for us- you know, what's going on here. so if we could listen to a quick interview with greg conlee, from the dharmadhatu center,
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i think we'll be able to get a better handle on this. [group chanting, drumming, and recitation] >> i'm here with reverend greg conlee at the chicago dharmadhatu meditation center, and if you hear some traffic noise around, well, that's because we're in the heart of the city. now, greg, let me ask you, what is the dharmadhatu meditation center, and could you tell us
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a little bit about your role here? >> the chicago dharmadhatu is a buddhist meditation and study center that was founded by chogyam trungpa rinpoche, and we are a city meditation center, which people come here to practice the practice of sitting meditation. and my function is, basically, i'm a major teacher here in chicago for our group, and people come here and we both practice meditation and study the buddhist teachings. >> and really quickly, some of the differences in the different types of buddhism that are here in chicago? >> well, just to back up a little bit, historically, buddhism started in india 2,500 years ago, and for that- when the buddha was alive, which i should mention that from a buddhist perspective, we do not look at the buddha as a god.
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>> oh, that's very helpful. >> it's a nontheistic tradition. and so buddha was a human being who came to some realizations, and he taught those realizations to his students, and in turn, that was taught to generations of students, and from india, buddhism was dispersed to a number of different asian countries. and today in the united states, we have a very interesting thing occurring, and that is that buddhism has come into the united states from a number of different sources. it's something that is completely experiential, and it's hard to really form one's opinion about what buddhism is without experiencing meditation, and i think that in today's society, it's something that i think is very valuable to westerners, to be able to just slow down and provide some space
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in their life to examine, you know, who they really are, because from my own experience, who we think we are, and you know, that sort of constant subconscious gossip that goes on in our minds sometimes creates a lot of confusion, and from that confusion, a lot of suffering can arise. and what buddhism is about is to work with that and actually go beyond that and to find peace, and how we can live in the world with gentleness and nonagression. i think that's really what buddhism is about. >> now, greg, in this conversation- it got very interesting, because i tried to pin him down on this no self issue and dependent origination, and that's exactly what he came back- and janet, your question was so helpful, because that's how he came back at me- he said,
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"no, it's not world- denying. in fact, when you're released from the sense that your self is solid and goes over and against the world, then you are open to relationships." and you know, the whole rap that traditional buddhism such as this gets for being world- denying, the practitioner goes, "help me. i'm not world- denying. this religion fills me with love and compassion." and what you find, contrary to those who are from the west, where the no self idea is difficult, what you find is when tanha, when that clinging, when that separate sense of self is erased, the dependent origination opens up a possibility for relationships that is way more richer, way more blissful, and way more wonderful. and on that note, we finish the class, and we'll pick it up in the next one.
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i'll get that one. must be careful. well, that's a nice picture. come on, anna. ok. announcer: foreclosure doesn't affect just you. it affects your whole family, too. if you've fallen behind on your mortgage, we can help. call 1-888-995-hope. because nothing is worse than doing nothing. you have the right to remain silent. you have the right to be heard. anything you say can be used against you... what you say will be listened to with dignity and respect. you have the right to information and assistance. [ cell door closes ] justice isn't served until crime victims are.